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 Sod Dena Higley article

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PostSubject: Sod Dena Higley article   Thu May 27, 2010 5:43 am

The latest issue of Soap Opera Digest features a new interview with Dena Higley.

SOD: Dena Higley Interview

Days of Our Lives Head Writer Dena Higley addresses it all -- including those pesky online rumors! In 2003, Dena was named Head Writer of Days, then she was ousted so the show could bring back James E. Reilly. From there she moved on to OLTL, which she wrote for three years. In 2008, she returned to Days of Our Lives, and now for the first time she's talking about her life in and out of Salem.

On her return to Days: "It was kind of a weird and rocky return because I worked for a couple of weeks with Hogan Sheffer, and then I submitted a long story that was trying to tie up the Colleen and Santo story and springboard into other things more Salem-based, like the plane crash and Shawn's death. I put that in a long story and then the writers strike happened and feelings were hurt and relationships were broken and it was a really bad time. My husband stepped in to work on the show and it was weird. So when I came back, it wasn't as if everything was wonderful and fun. It was kind of tense. I sort of fast-forwarded all the stories, so it was alot of repositioning and house-cleaning. And then when Gary Tomlin came on, it was just at the time that we were trying to arrange a pickup with NBC and there was alot of pressure. I came up with the baby switch, which I don't think knocked anybody's socks off when they first read my long story. We ended up forging ahead and Ken Corday was a big supporter of it and it turned out, I think, to be a really good thing to re-energize the show and help me get my footing again. I think it's just been gravy since then."

On why the Baby Switch story wasn't initially well-received: "It was, 'Baby switch? Oh really? That cliche again? Seriously?' That was sort of the thing I got from everybody. And I was like, 'No... it's going to be different.' It's there's one thing Jim Reilly taught me, it's that every story is new because every character is in a different situation and the stakes are always different. You can use the same foundation for a story, but if you do it right, it will always feel and taste different. I was really confident in my story and I think my excitement and passion for the story was just enough to carry the producers and the network initially along for the ride. And then once we stared gaining momentum, everybody saw how great it was. And I'm not tooting my own horn. Yes, that was my story, but by the time my team of writers (and Gary) got ahold of it, it really turned into a much longer arc than I ever expected and it became this loving, team effort. It was great."

On whether or not she was worried about the Baby Switch followup: "[The followup] was a concern. Alot of it has to do with how far ahead we're working for budgetary reasons and scheduling reasons and how genius they are over in production, so you start something and there's a lag period until it airs here you don't know. So we weren't really sure if the Phillip/Melanie wedding and Melanie being shot and all of that was going to be something that would keep the momentum going, but I think people liked it. That was sort of our interim. We were very much looking forward to starting the Nighttime Hope story, but we actually had to hold that off a couple of weeks. I feel a little bit better now that that's airing. Now as we're writing the stories we're writing, it's going into a much more EJ/Sami/Rafe/Nicole, much more fast-paced direction, like the baby story again.

On why she brought back familiar faces from Salem's past: "It wasn't a haphazard, 'Well they used to be popular, so let's bring them back on even if we don't have anything to do with them.' That's so unfair to the actor and it's unfair to the audience, so we tried really hard not to do it. Coming out of the Ciara kidnapping story, Bo and Hope were very fragile and I thought, 'Now what?' Crystal Chappell became available and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to bring her on. I was looking at the canvas with the Kiriakises going, 'I need more population in the mansion. Who would be perfect? I really miss Justin. What if he came in and he was a lawyer...' I always loved Wally Kurth, so I went to Gary Tomlin and I said, 'Just for a little bit can we bring Wally on?' And it's to Wally's credit that he's made us come up with idea after idea of ways to use him. Of course, if Justin's back, what happened to Adrienne? And Vivian? Fabulous!"

On her writing process: "It's very simple: I mull over story ideas all the time and I'll jot them down and bring all these little slips of paper. Chris and Gary and I will sit down and I will just run crazy, insane ideas by them. I'll see their faces like, 'Not so much' or 'Okay, that's a bad idea.' But then every once in a while, it will be like, 'Aha! That's something,' and the three of us will just start riffing. But it's got to come from me because that's my job. I don't want to look around at everybody going, 'Well did anybody see any movies last night? Does anybody have any ideas?' I've worked for head writers like that and it sucks. We're a team. Gary used to be a writer and he thinks like a writer, but Chris and I are still the writers and he doesn't push into our world. We get along really well. Chris is so talented and creative, and Gary is so brilliant, and it's so much fun and I feel safe enough to come in with really bad ideas. After I pitch a story, the network weighs in and Ken weighs in. We work quickly. Chris Whitesell is even faster than me. We talk fast, we write fast, we think fast. The breakdown writers are so quick. And the script workers are so fast and that gives production the luxury of being fast that saves money. Other ways work well for other shows; this works well for us."

On the internet rumors that Dena doesn't really write the show: "I don't know how they could possibly know our process or how it all works. NBC and Ken Corday know who's writing the show. Yeah, it kind of hurts my feelings that people are out there saying I don't, but the people who live in my world and who like my work know I'm writing the show. Ken knows that the initial idea is always mine. The internet is a very dangerous place and it bothers me alot. There's another rumor that I was head-writing during the strike and the Writers Guild called me. These weird rumors get started and that one was particularly disturbing because it was so not true because my husband was doing such a fantastic job and I was going through so many health problems at the time. It's kind of nobody's business what my health issues were, so I didn't feel like I had the right to defend myself without compromising my privacy. When I did go back to work, I did it above board and for reasons that are my own. And now it's on my Wikipedia and I can't get it off and it's just unfortunate. Plus, why would Ken pay me if I'm not writing? I want that job! If the head writer's not producing story, that's nuts to pay them. But it's very mean-spirited and it's a few people who don't want to think I have anything to offer."

On the ratings of the show: "I have to live in the ratings and I get those every Thursday morning. My kids take one look at my face and they say, 'It's happy mommy' or 'It's sad mommy.' Unfortunately, it's like playing the stock market -- you're in it for the long haul. If we have a couple of bad weeks, we get philosophical about it. We see a trend and then we have to hold ourselves accountable for that trend and do something and take drastic measures. For the most part, the ratings have been good. They got us the pickup and for the most part, the buzz is good and that's what I like. We're going into summer and we have good story coming up, so I'm hopeful."

On the future of the show: "It's unfortunate that the pickup is only as long as it is, but the reality is the way daytime is now, you have to be so immediate. You have to offer something every day, you have to live in the moment, so yes, if need be, I can pitch six months from now, a year from now. I can take a little guess at what I would like two years from now with the option to change my mind. I'm always keeping one eye on the future, but if we're writing well today, tomorrow will take care of itself."

http://daytimeroyaltyonline.com/topic/8294363/1/
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PostSubject: Re: Sod Dena Higley article   Thu May 27, 2010 5:44 am

I think Dena must be miserable a lot. So how is it Dena, knowing the fans all hate you? I can't believe I am saying this, but this woman suck's monkey balls! The poor little monkey! bitch smilie
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